Tosa East boys basketball team has impressive debut
Red Raiders trounce Racine Park in opener
You never know what you are going to get with the first basketball game of the year. And when you only have four days to put a game plan together, it's even more complicated.
With the Wauwatosa East boys volleyball team going to the state tournament, the Red Raiders basketball team had to wait a little longer for the four spikers to join the team for the second week of practice.
But after watching Tosa East blow out Racine Park, 61-37, on Friday in the season opener, it appears coach Tim Arndorfer had nothing to worry about.
Leading only 16-14 with 5 minutes, 41 seconds left in the second period, the Red Raiders closed out the first half with a 13-0 run for a 29-14 lead at halftime.
Senior guard Nate Moore scored seven points with two free throws, a fast-break basket and a 3-pointer to end the half, but he had help from newcomer Derrick Hurt.
Hurt scored on two putbacks and then threw in two assists on a basket by Kyle Vnuk and a fast-break score by Moore.
"We'd get it to four, get it to six, we've give the ball right back and they'd close the gap," Arndorfer said. "We knew we had the ability to expand that lead.
"Once we took care of the ball, the defense - the way we were playing - it was just a matter of time."
Arndorfer knew his defense might have to carry his team until the offense got its act together - and he was right in that assumption.
"Everything started on the defensive end here," he said. "We were really consistent throughout the whole game.
"We had a feeling offensively we might have a little trouble. With only four days and trying to get a lot of stuff in … we were sloppy offensively in the first half.
"But boy those last couple of minutes we cleaned it up and our defense was extraordinary. I've got to really give them credit."
Sizzling after halftime
Tosa East opened the second half with two jumpers by Moore and a free throw by Ben Carpenter, before Park scored to end an 18-0 run. The Red Raiders held the Panthers without a point from the 5:41 mark in the second quarter until the 4:46 mark in the third period, a span of about 8:30 minutes.
But Tosa East wasn't done. After Park scored, the Red Raiders went on an 8-0 run thanks to senior Ben Mihelich, who scored on a putback, two in-bound plays and two free throws for a 42-16 lead to end a 26-2 run.
"Collectively we've been really good when we play with each other," Arndorfer said. "I don't know if we have one guy who can carry us. We just don't. As long as we can stay unselfish, I think we might see quite a few of these in the win column."
Moore finished with 17 points, while Mihelich, fresh off a successful volleyball season, scored 13.
"Nate's been really big for us. He's put a lot of time and work in to take over this leadership role at the point," Arndorfer said. "He can do a lot of special things with the ball and also get teammates open.
"He sees the floor incredibly well. I'm really excited for him and for the season we're hoping he's going to have."
Playing as one unit
Hurt was another standout, showing amazing versatility underneath and on the perimeter, offensively and defensively.
"We weren't sure if he would be able to bring the intensity for extended periods," Arndorfer said. "He was an animal. On the boards, on the ball, he's so unique because he can guard people down low, but he can go up and guard little guys, too. It's really a nice luxury to have when you have somebody who can play like that."
East's defense and passing stood out all night.
"Really, it's what we've been preaching from Day 1," Arndorfer said about his team working together. "We know if they play their role, they can play it well. If we get guys trying to do things beyond their ability, that's when we're going to be in a little bit of trouble.
"But we got to trust each other. Play with each other. You know they're all seniors. This is a senior-dominated group. If we can get them all to jell, I think we are going to be hard to stop on offense if we can keep playing that way."
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